This file was generated 2002-06-09 04:23 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2002-02-23.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> May 2000 >> Apt Pupil
Apt Pupil is a movie with two antagonists and no protagonists. One is a Nazi war criminal, and the other is a boy fascinated with the gory details of the killings he supervised. The source of the boy's interest in the German side of the Holocaust is not adequately revealed during the movie. There is no obvious bigotry in the character, and he asks "Why do people do the things they do?" more than once, so his intent is more likely to understand the psychology of sanctioned mass murder. If he was simply looking for someone to play mind games with, I'd think he'd find enough confused heads right at his high school. That he never ends up in over his head dealing with his enemy is only accounted for by his high class rank. I have no problem with the performances by Brad Renfro and Ian McKellen, but the story needs more setup to establish who these people are and how they got where they are today. Perhaps the Stephen King novella from which the move was adapted has more to say on this.
I didn't like Brad Renfro much in Telling Lies in America and I don't like him much now. He's a competent actor despite his age, but there is something about his face that just bothers me. Maybe that makes him perfect for his role here. Ian McKellen is excellent throughout, to the point that I can say nothing of interest that will equal what it deserves. The real surprise in Apt Pupil is David Schwimmer. Being one of the six stars of "Friends" hasn't proven the best indicator of acting skill, but Schwimmer does a decent job, even through his ridiculous moustache.
The Apt Pupil DVD offers much to nitpick. The movie is split into twenty-eight chapters, but the final credits are not given their own chapter. The scene selector menus offer four scenes to a menu, but require tedious movements through all of the menus to get to a scene. Throughout the menus, items are oddly arranged, occasionally creating situations where linear movement through the items can't be accomplished with a single direction's movement at the controls. The disc contains the theatrical trailer and a six-minute featurette. There are also biographies and filmographies for McKellen, Renfro, Schwimmer, and director Bryan Singer. English subtitles appear in grey-edged yellow, and always in the bottom matte of the letterbox presentation, a courteous touch.